It was a memorable union between basketball, goodwill, and fun at the Amar Jyoti Research & Rehabilitation Center in New Delhi on Saturday morning where India’s Senior Men’s Basketball team head coach Kenny Natt attended a clinic with primary school wheelchair basketball players. To raise awareness about athletes with disabilities, the National Trust hosted a Wheelchair Sports Event on November 25-26, 2011. As part of this event, American non-profit organisation Wheelchair Athletes Worldwide (WAW) donated seven sports wheelchairs to Amar Jyoti and conducted basketball clinics.

The initiative was part of ‘Badhte Kadam’, which is an awareness raising campaign by the National Trust aiming to create opportunities and participation in the community of People with Disabilities. Amar Jyoti, the venue for this event, is an inclusive school where students with and without disabilities learn together.

Natt was welcomed at the event by representatives from WAW and accomplished wheelchair athletes Peter Hughes and Greg Hockensmith. This was WAW’s first donation: Unlike regular wheelchairs – which are used by disabled youngsters at Amar Jyoti when they play basketball – the sports wheelchairs allow for better mobility and efficiency when taking parts in sports such as basketball and rugby.

Natt, an accomplished named in basketball who has had stints as a player and a coach with the NBA, took the role of student for a change as he was given tips on the rules and regulations of wheelchair basketball by experienced wheelchair athletes at the event. Hughes and Hockensmith then conducted short drills with several physically disabled under-14 students at Amar Jyoti to help them understand appropriate use of the sports wheelchairs.

The children, WAW athletes, and coach Natt then competed in a friendly wheelchair basketball game, as students from nearby schools gathered to watch and encourage the young hoopsters.

“I have played basketball at every level in my life, but this was completely new and different to me,” said Natt, “I had a lot of fun today: it takes a lot of hard work and practice to be an accomplished wheelchair basketball player. I’m sure I’ll be back here again!”

“Sport is great in several ways: it gives us an opportunity to compete and also to achieve together as a team,” Natt further encouraged the youngsters, “With sports, there is no limit to what you can accomplish, as long as you give in your hard work, your commitment, and practice. I encourage the young players here to focus on improving the weaker aspects of their game so that they can become better basketball players.”

“I’m honoured to be here, and I also commend Wheelchair Athletes Worldwide for their donation to the children.”